Artificial Intelligence or AI seldom gets good press; take the examples of ChatGPT which has been banned in many Universities across the world due to the potential for student plagiarism or the controversy surrounding the Hollywood writers’ strike calling it a “plagiarism machine”.
There has also been concerns about the potential of Deepfakes to misrepresent reality by manipulating media by replacing faces and voices to create mis-information and deception, with videos of political figures, celebrities, or public figures delivering speeches or engaging in activities they never actually did.
So what exactly is AI?
The European Commission has defined defined AI systems as systems designed by humans, which can collect data and interpret it, to decide the best action to take to achieve a complex goal. There are a number of terms used for what are essentially systems that think and act like humans or systems that think and act rationally such as: AI technology: robots, smart systems, intelligent systems, intelligent agents, AI agents, AI algorithms. They are everywhere and they are starting to impact more and more areas of our lives, from work to medicine, education to interpersonal relations.
There are of course lots of concerns in relation to the ethics of AI including privacy and data protection, loss of human input into important decisions, technology taking over professions and impacts on human relationships and interaction
Here is a link to the ChatGPT’s thoughts on the matter which were generated in approx. 12 seconds! https://chat.openai.com/share/d19725b3-22d0-4cf5-9fd9-8ddf0a9d3550
In reality, AI has enormous potential that for good in our world, to make all our lives better and a few stories in recent weeks demonstrate this.
Take for example, a man in the Netherlands, who damaged his spinal cord in a cycling accident 12 years ago, which left him with paralysed legs and partially paralysed arms, He is now able to walk again thanks to AI, which uses an artificial bridge between his brain and his spine / legs which he can control with his thoughts. It has been described by neurosurgeons as “great news for anyone with a spinal-cord injury” (Nature, 2023)
Or the use of AI to predict the risk of developing pancreatic cancer based on the analysis of clinical data records. The early detection of this cancer, which has long been a problem , is vital for improved outcomes. This increased understanding of the risk factors of this “aggressive malignancy” has the potential to improve patient survival and reduce overall mortality(Placido, D. et al., 2022).
AI is not something in the future, it is here and now, and already embedded into all our lives from, the cube in the corner of the kitchen that will play your favourite band or find you an idea for dinner to your TV platform of choice which will offer you films and shows that it thinks you will like, based on what you have previously watched, or the personalised feed on your social media…..the list goes on.
While there is a clearly huge potential for good with AI there is also a potential for misuse and we as legislators need to keep up to date with developments and make sure that technology is working on behalf of everybody.
I did an interview today with the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s communications team on the need for science in the legislative process and especially in the legislation of AI, which will be published at a later date on the IPU’s website.as part of a bigger discussion piece around the issue of AI regulation.
I spoke about the need for parliamentarians and scientists to engage with each other and try to speak each others’ language as they have a common goal and that is to make the world in which we live, a better one for everybody which is the what the IPU’s Working Group on Science and Technology is trying to achieve.
For more information about the work of the Working Group please see the website – https://www.ipu.org/about-ipu/structure-and-governance/governing-council/working-group-science-and-technology
European Parliament (2022) ‘Artificial intelligence: threats and opportunities’ Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20200918STO87404/artificial-intelligence-threats-and-opportunities
European Parliament (2018) ‘Should we fear artificial intelligence? ‘Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2018/614547/EPRS_IDA(2018)614547_EN.pdf
de Almeida, P.G.R., dos Santos, C.D. & Farias, J.S. (2021) Artificial Intelligence Regulation: a framework for governance. Ethics Inf Technol 23, pp.505–525. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-021-09593-z
Nature (2023) Brain–spine interface allows paralysed man to walk using his thoughts’, Nature 618, (18) Available at: doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-01728-0
Placido, D. et al. (2022) ‘AI predicts risk of pancreatic cancer from disease trajectories using real-world electronic health records (EHRs) from Denmark and the USA. Cancer Res; 82 (12) Available at: https://doi-org.dcu.idm.oclc.org/10.1158/1538-7445.AM2022-LB550